News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 12, 2012

State superintendent candidate blasts incumbent's out-of-state gifts

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Glenda Ritz, Democratic candidate for state superintendent of public instruction, is criticizing incumbent Tony Bennett for accepting campaign contributions from out-of-state privatization proponents.

She also is criticizing the amount of out-of-state contributions her opponent has received. If elected, she said, “I will not seek donations from private companies that have a vested interest in winning contracts to privatize schools here in Indiana.”

She also would not accept donations from firms that do business with the Indiana Department of Education, she said. Ritz made a campaign stop in Terre Haute Thursday.

“We really do have outside influences coming into Indiana that have privatization agendas, and they want to make sure that agenda continues in Indiana,” she said.

In a news release, Ritz says that from November 2008 to Oct. 4, Bennett raised nearly $1.6 million in campaign contributions, according to campaign finance reports; more than $669,000 came from out-of-state donors.

Those donations include $200,000 from Alice Walton, an heiress to the Wal-Mart fortune. The Walton Foundation has been a supporter of charter schools and voucher programs nationwide, according to the StateImpact website.

Also, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has contributed $40,000 to Bennett’s re-election campaign, Ritz said. Bennett has accepted donations from residents of 27 states, she said.

“There is something fundamentally wrong when my opponent takes almost one-half of his donations from out-of-state residents,”  Ritz stated in a news release.

Ritz said she has focused on raising money in Indiana. Of the 735 contributors who have supported her campaign, her out-of-state contributions total $968, all from individual donors. In total, she’s raised more than $200,000, she said.

In response, Ross McMullin, Bennett’s campaign manager, issued the following statement.

“There are a lot of people in Indiana and around the country who are encouraged by the progress Dr. Bennett has made to improve education for Indiana’s students. We welcome that support. Our opposition is well-funded and our focus is to ensure this progress continues, so we’re working hard to win a second term.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.